We’ve all heard the stories of companies like Volkswagen, Facebook, and Wells Fargo that got caught in lies, deception, and scandal. And while each of these companies survived—though not without lawsuits and other serious consequences—they’re certainly cautionary tales of what happens when businesses don’t value truth-telling in their company.
But if companies like this can survive large-scale deceit, why is truth important in business? For starters, there are many companies that don’t survive their dishonesty. And recently, a growing movement is pushing for businesses, to tell the truth—or risk losing their customers. The 2019 Edelman Trust Barometer shared that 81% of respondents from eight countries (including the US) report that they must be able to trust a company to do what’s right... and it’s a deal-breaker if they can’t. Sprout Social found similar results about brands on social media—reporting that 81% of people believe that companies have a responsibility to be transparent when posting online. Increasingly, consumers are demanding that the companies they buy from tell the truth.
Yet, there is undoubtedly a cost to telling the truth in business: it’s difficult and it can certainly alienate certain clients. Some companies will pay the price, and others will lie. Let’s explore the value of telling the truth in business, and the potential consequences of telling the truth that come with it.
What is Honesty in Business?
At its core, honesty in business is about telling the truth and being a trustworthy company. It’s about following ethical business practices and acting in the best interest of your customers or clients… even when it means owning up to errors or mistakes. Here are some practical honesty in business examples that illustrate what telling the truth looks like:
- Immediately own up to mistakes. If, for example, your company misses a shipping deadline to a customer, be honest, forthright, and fix the situation to the best of your ability. Don’t try to lie or sweep it under the rug.
- Keep your clients’ best interests in mind. Don’t say something is “free” if it isn't. Don’t offer bundle deals that don’t provide added value to your customers. Remember that your customers are the reason you’re in business, and being honest and truthful will keep them loyal.
- Approach issues with vulnerability and truth. If and when an issue arises, rather than thinking your company knows and understands everything... listen to your customers, tell the truth about your shortcomings, and try to grow.
What are the Benefits of Honesty in Business?
The importance of honesty in business cannot be understated. Companies reap many benefits from telling the truth, like building a workplace culture centered on honesty, creating a positive reputation, establishing meaningful relationships with customers, and standing out from the crowd. Let’s explore these benefits further.
Looking to create a workplace built on honesty and integrity? Start by telling the truth. Workplace culture is driven by the values, missions, and beliefs that drive a company. Be transparent with your team members, solicit feedback from them, and encourage them to be honest in all their dealings with customers. Telling the truth starts internally, and it starts with leadership.
Companies spend years and thousands of dollars establishing brand loyalty with their customers or clients, and dishonesty can break that relationship in mere moments. Almost half of buyers won’t do business with sellers that provide misleading information. Tell the truth and build strong relationships built around trust instead.
We all make mistakes, and businesses aren’t exempt from this. But once the mistake is made, your reputation depends on how you handle it. Sprout Social reports that nearly 90% of consumers believe companies can regain their trust if they admit to a mistake and handle it appropriately. Your reputation depends on telling the truth.
If you’re up against stiff competition in your industry, one way to stand out is by telling the truth, being transparent, and being open about the strengths and weaknesses of your product or service. In a world where so many businesses lie, transparency and honesty can set you apart from the crowd in a good way. Consider, for example, how Patagonia stood by their company's truth of environmentalism by advertising that consumers not buy their clothes as often.
What are the Consequences of Telling the Truth in Business?
There are certainly consequences of telling the truth in business, which is part of the reason companies lie so often and so easily. Telling the truth can scare people off. You might offend your customers. You might alienate your customers. You’re likely to lose one or two in being dedicated to transparency. But if they’re clients who are turned off by truth-telling, maybe they weren’t your ideal client, anyway.
And, at the end of the day, it’s difficult. A recent study reported that we lie in about one-fifth of our social interactions. We lie to save face, to make it easier to reveal information, or even to save someone else’s feelings. But at the end of the day, dedicating yourself to telling the truth in business can make or break your company...and your customers will be watching.
Moser: IT Consulting you Can Trust
Moser Consulting isn’t your average IT consulting company. We’re driven by helping our clients and each one of our team members find success. We have a tremendous reputation locally and nationally, and we’re always working to improve upon it by developing trustworthy relationships with each of our clients. If you’re ready for an IT consulting company that will tell you the honest truth, reach out to us today.